Your March working-world recap: from bank collapses to genius robots

Mar 29, 2023

3 mins

Your March working-world recap: from bank collapses to genius robots
Rozena Crossman

Journalist and translator based in Paris, France.

The year 2023 is slated to be as hectic as its recent predecessors. The economy seems to have taken on a mind of its own and changes in the working world are happening so fast we can barely count the shifts of last year. So while trying to decode the job market will remain a mental ride on Space Mountain, we’ve decided to enumerate the news for you in a monthly report. That means 1 update a month with 6 things you should know so you’ll be 12 times more informed about the professional world.

The Ides of March have safely passed. The term refers to March 15th, the day Julius Caesar was assassinated, and is considered by some to be bad luck. The day wasn’t particularly eventful this year, but the month on a whole was certainly a bit scary. Collapsed banks, major layoffs and (more) signs of AI taking our jobs… here’s what happened in the world of work:

10/2/23 is when the Silicon Valley Bank collapsed.

Known as SVB, it was America’s 16th largest lender and heavily involved in the country’s tech industry. The biggest bank failure since 2008, the crash affected clients like Etsy, Roblox and Roku. Whether there will be a larger impact on the economy remains to be seen. The government, however, recently announced it will reimburse companies for their lost cash — even if it exceeds the $250,000 covered by federal law, which is the case for 93% of SVB’s clients.

17 major companies

have announced serious layoffs this month, according to Forbes. The list includes Disney, which is letting 7,000 workers go; Amazon, which is cutting 9,000 jobs; and Meta, which is firing 12% of its workforce, a whopping 10,000 employees. But the list doesn’t cover businesses like NPR, which is reducing its staff by 10%, or the potential scaleback at Salesforce, which is rumored to also cut 10% of employees in the near future. Yikes.

½ of US employees

have thought about leaving their job to work for themselves. According to a survey released this month by Harris Poll, 68% of the people surveyed think they’d make more money if they were their own boss and 66% believe their quality of life would improve. It seems the impending recession is actually pushing people towards self-employment, as 59% of working Americans who don’t already own their own business say the current economic uncertainty is making the idea seem more interesting.

30 minutes

was how long it took for AI to accomplish days’ worth of work on a business project. Ethan Mollick, a management professor at UPenn’s Wharton School, ran an experiment to see what, exactly, the new AI tools at our disposal could crank out in half an hour. During that time, Mollick used a mix of Bing, Chat GPT-4, MidJourney, ElevenLabs and DiD, to combine the tasks of a marketing strategist, copywriter, site developer and social media manager. When time was up, Mollick reports he’d done “market research, created a positioning document, wrote an email campaign, created a website, created a logo and ‘hero shot’ graphic, made a social media campaign for multiple platforms, and scripted and created a video.” It’s no surprise Goldman Sachs projects that generative AI will automize 300 million full-time jobs…

500+ unfair labor practice charges

have been filed against Starbucks. After the first US store unionized in 2021, almost 300 others followed suit. But complaints of employees forced to attend anti-union meetings began to surface, with some of the meetings led by the CEO, Howard Schultz, himself. This week, he’ll testify before congress as they investigate charges against his company. As one barista told Vox: “He subjected thousands of baristas to these captive audience meetings in our stores; now we’re getting to see his own personal captive audience meeting in front of the Senate.”

72.5% of private-sector businesses

in the US said few or none of their employees teleworked in 2022. This recent stat from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that telework may be on the decline, as only 60.1% of these businesses said the same thing in a similar period of 2021. This was particularly evident in the finance sector: 44.9% had a hybrid system in 2021, which dropped to 22% a year later. While the BLS’ numbers for 2023 won’t be out anytime soon, research from telework economists Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom and Steven J. Davis shows not much has changed in the past year: last month, 27.7% of workdays took place at home, which is close to the 2022 monthly average of 30%.

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